Ramazan inflation: what we can do

Published: July 31, 2010
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Ramazan usually sees a rise in the prices of everyday commodities part of the common man's basket of purchases.

The Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) reported that the increase in the prices of perishable food items rose by 20.76%, that is right after the increase of 16.36% in the prices of electricity and fuel over the last year (period: July – June 2010).  The average inflation in food prices is 14.48% and inflation in non-perishable items lies at 13.64%.

The figures mentioned above are a reflection of the yearly increase in prices but let us see how prices are indicating that the holy month of Ramazan is coming. A week ago a national business newspaper conducted an on field survey exploring some realities about the rise in market prices of commodities that count in the basket of a common man one month before Ramazan 2010.

As per the survey the price of gram flour (basin) has increased from PKR 60 to 70 per kilogramme. The price of sugar has increased from PKR 60 to 70. The price of Dalda ghee rose to PKR 725 from 680/5kg. The price of tomato has risen to PKR 40 from 25/kg. The price of onion has risen to PKR 35 from 25/kg. The price of mango has risen to PKR 70 from PKR 50/kg. All items that will be in demand in the month of Ramazan are also seeing a rise in prices.

I will stop here because this is not something that you cannot witness when you go to the markets. This situation is nothing but a dilemma for our national planning over commodity prices and their availability. I know people expect us to write solutions of national problems. But what is the solution? If sugar is in stock at the mills, get it out and if it is not available buy it from the international market where it is even cheaper once duties shall be exempted. The same strategy goes for all other matters.

Even though this is not part of this topic, I remember when our ministers said a month ago that the electricity crisis is not because of the government’s mismanagement. They quoted it as an outcome of the natural shortage of water in our reservoirs. .

Ramazan is a holy month. It is a pure blessing of Allah but the blessing is being ruined by the people of this world. What can we say to the government that mismanages? The one who sells over-priced dresses on Eidul Fitar? Everyone is chasing higher earnings.

Many poor people in the country who cannot even make ends meet. People in the country who fast and after breaking their fast they remain without food. I know it is difficult to absorb but it is not solely the government that hurts them, we are also responsible in many regards.

Despite our complaints about inflation, many of us will spend thousands on Eid preparations. In a city where a person buys a dress of Rs5,000-20,000 for Eid, we have some families that need the same amount to manage their month on bare minimum standards. We can say that we equally give 2.5% Zakat so we have a right to do so, but ask your heart, can we really?

I am not talking about the measures the government can take to control inflation but let me talk about my responsibility. Let me talk about your responsibility. Believe me, the happiness of wearing an expensive dress, shoes, bangles etc is not more than feeding people in their stressed economic situations. It is far better when it is the month of Ramazan. You can go to the market and buy an expensive kurta for Alwida Juma and Eid prayer but God can hear you in the simplest basic getup.

Ramazan is approaching. Many of us with plans for Ramazan and Eid have to sit and think. Can we expect in today’s age that our government can do something to seriously control inflation? Can we expect anything but severe effects on prices when we see our crops ruined by the floods? So it is time to act with a lot of responsibility.

Everyone knows his buying power. Get together, cut your budgets in Ramazan and Eid and make a pool of money within your lanes, localities that can work for those who are deprived of the basics. This is the solution in hand. I am sorry to many of my readers who expect an economic or business solution from researchers like me. With just two weeks to go before Ramazan I just have an individual moral solution of this problem. As far as the government goes, I am not suggesting anything to them. They are not worthy of it.

saqib.omer.saeed

Saqib Omer Saeed

A financial researcher, analyst and adjunct faculty in CBM, SZABIST, BIZTEK & University of Karachi and blogs at www.bizomer.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.